Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Best Six Films of 2012 (So Far) In No Particular Order

While, thus far, this year's video game releases have left something to be desired (if purely for the lack of ANYTHING COMING OUT), this year has been absolutely phenomenal for films, particularly genre films. In fact, I can't remember a year with so many astoundingly good films... Ever. 2012 may not have produced the best genre films ever (though I do believe some of these will be considered among such in years to come), but it's certainly produced a lot of really, really good ones.

So I thought I'd share six of the best movies to come out this year so far. These are all great movies, definitely worth your time. These are in no particular order here, though I will tell you that I'm absolutely torn apart trying to decided which among three of them is my favorite film of the year. Without further ado, six films from 2012 you should make time to see.

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph began to get a whole lot of buzz earlier this year when the first trailer came out for it, and revealed that not only was the plot pretty unique (the villain of an old arcade game deciding he wants to be the hero for once, and "game jumping" to find somewhere he can be), but that there were literally dozens of cameos from real, actual video game characters.

Well as it turns out, Wreck-It Ralph is every bit the love letter to gaming that people had hoped it would be, but not for the reasons they thought it would. While the cameos are there, and very well used for the most part, the reason the film works as well as it does is because of the attention to detail it pays, and the way it really gets video games in a way Hollywood never has before.

From the absolutely gorgeous pixel art featured in places, to the way the music sounds like video game music, to the way it mirrors video games in dozens of other ways even down to things like camera angles, or the way they actually got Buckner & Garcia of "Pacman Fever" fame to write a Wreck-It Ralph theme, to the way the characters look different depending on what kind of game they're from, to literally dozens of other things I can't even begin to describe, this movie works in every way it needs to. 

While there are a couple of jokes that didn't land, especially from Sarah Silverman's character Vannelope (LOOKIN' AT YOU "HERO'S DOODIE"!), for the most part Wreck-It Ralph is a fun, funny, great film. Every gamer should see it, people who don't like games should see it anyway, for a legitimately good film.


Paranorman is a PG comedy version of The Sixth Sense. I am not kidding. Norman, the main character, is a boy who sees ghosts. Unlike Haley Joel Osment's emotionally scarred character however, Norman is pretty ok with this.

From Laika Animation, Paranorman is a stop-motion animated film, and honestly, that's all you had to say to get me excited for it, because seriously, I love me some weirdly dark stop-motion kids films, as evidenced by the fact that The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my two favorite films. Beyond the exceptional animation, however, there's also a fantastic, really interesting story in the film. Each character is bizzare in their own delightful way, and while it bugged me that Norman's powers are kind of forgotten for the second half of the film, when you've got satirical take downs of small-town american's chasing after bumbling zombies in the second half of the film, it's impossible not to love it. There's a few surprising twists in the story I don't want to spoil, but suffice it to say that the movie is, again, well worth your time.


Holy telekinetic superpowers Batman, this is a dark film! Chronicle is a found footage movie about three teenagers who get superpowers. I'm pretty sure that sentence just sounded like the worst thing ever to a sizable portion of the world, so let me clarify. Chronicle is a found footage movie that's super well written, uses the found footage format extremely well, and has teenagers who are likeable, or at least sympathetic, even when they're objectively terrible people.

The main character of the film, Andrew, is an outcast, emotionally (and at times physically) abused kid, who has no friends, and videotapes everything that happens to him (it works in this case, trust me) except for his cousin (and fellow main character) Matt, and even that's more out of pity. When Matt invites him to a party, the two of them, plus another friend of Matt's, Steve, discover a cave which leads to a bizarre thing which gives each of them telekinesis.

What follows is basically a story about what a group of teenagers would actually do if they got super powers, which is to say, totally abuse them. It's also an incredible character study into the mind of an emotionally unstable teenager, and the kind of person who could eventually grow up to be a serial killer. Sound like fun?

Seriously, even if you're turned off by the idea of another found footage movie, this one uses it a lot more intelligently than anything else I've ever seen (it's heavily implied that someone is putting together footage from hundreds of cameras after the events of the movie, perhaps as a sequel hook), and is a great film. Plus it has an insane third act which I won't spoil for you (though the above movie poster pretty much does). If you're in for a dark, tragic tale, but an extremely well written and directed one, Chronicle will not let you down.

The Avengers

Oh come on. It's The Avengers. Of course it's on here, it's a fantastic film, and pretty much everyone saw it, judging by the box office. But yes, needless to say, The Avengers is very very very very very very very good film, and unlike anything that's ever come before. Marvel's ambitious project hasn't produced a bad movie yet, and this is probably the best one yet. Despite a simplistic plot, The Avengers did everything it needed to do, namely let us see all our favorite Marvel heroes (that they still have the movie rights to, that is) up on screen together, playing off of each other. The perfect casting made each of the characters feel exactly how they needed to, it had the king of ensemble casts writing and directing it, Joss Whedon, and the end result is one of the best comic book adaptations ever put to film. Go see it if you haven't already, it's very very very very very very very good.

The Dark Knight Rises

I already wrote quite a bit about this movie, so I'll keep this brief. The Dark Knight Rises is a good film. It is not as good as The Dark Knight. Some people would have you believe this means it is a bad film. Those people are crazy, because if not being as good as The Dark Knight makes you a bad film, then there are no good films other than The Dark Knight.

The Cabin In The Woods

Oh man. Oh man oh man. The Cabin In The Woods is a very difficult movie to write about, because the more I tell you about it, the worse it becomes. Suffice it to say that Cabin In The Woods' advertising was extremely misleading. On the surface it seems to be the most stereotypical slasher film in the world, a group of archetypal characters (The Jock, The Bad Girl, The Stoner, and so on) go to a cabin in the woods for the weekend, and horrible things begin happening. But then you start watching it, and you realize there's something more going on, significantly so. 

If you've read anything about the film, you probably already know at least the first twist upon that plot (which, for the record, is FILLED WITH THEM), but if you don't, I encourage you to go into the film as blind as possible. The unexpected places that the film goes will surprise you in ways you would never expect... Plus, when I said Chronicle had a crazy third act, that was nothing compared to this movie. This movie has one of the most insane, and wonderful third acts in film history. You MUST see this film for just that if nothing else, if you have any love for horror movies, slasher movies, or just monster movies in general.

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